March Madness Fare Forward Edition

Every March tons of Americans make brackets of all the competing teams in the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship and vote for their favorite teams. This year Fare Forward decided to create some brackets of our own and invite readers to vote. But instead of basketball teams, we've paired off famous Christian thinkers, submitted by Fare Forward writers, into randomly-generated matches (above, see bigger image here).At Fare Forward, we "consider the future and the past with an equal m … [Read more...]

“The Bible” and Our Bland Theology

Bible documentaries tend to skew toward the fringe in order to get a high viewership: I have seen documentaries that argue that Ezekiel’s wheel was a UFO, and that Jesus performed his miracles using David Blaine-style street magic.  So I was wary about the History Channel’s new, much-hyped mini-series “The Bible."  Shortly before the show premiered this past Sunday, however, I read a Christianity Today interview with the producers—Roma Downey from “Touched by an Angel” and her husband Mark Burnet … [Read more...]

Education: Outcomes > Values

David Brooks’ recent NYT op-ed featured Brown professor Jin Li’s research on the comparative values of Eastern and Western cultural approaches to learning: Westerners tend to define learning cognitively while Asians tend to define it morally. Westerners tend to see learning as something people do in order to understand and master the external world. Asians tend to see learning as an arduous process they undertake in order to cultivate virtues inside the self. These “learning virtues” include “s … [Read more...]

Apollo and the Unmerciful Hermit

[This delightful story is one of many given in Benedicta Ward's translation of the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, which makes excellent Lenten reading.]There was once a brother who was very eager to seek goodness.  Being very disturbed by the demon of lust, he came to a hermit and told him about his thoughts.  The hermit was inexperienced and when he heard all this, he was shocked, and said he was a wicked brother, unworthy of his monk's habit because he had thoughts like that.When the br … [Read more...]

Keeping Great Movies at a Distance

Did you see The Master?  I did, when it came out.  It was disturbing, filled with a kind of psychological grit that I'm accustomed to seeing only in Swedish movies.  The photography was incredible.  I'm still haunted by the film's recurring transition shot: a slow motion image of water churning in the wake of a boat.  And Joaquin Phoenix?  Amazing.Beasts of the Southern Wild?  It must have been the most humane and moving film of the year.  The director is a 31 year old New Yorker who somehow … [Read more...]

What I’ve Learned from Communion

Growing up, my church observed “Lord’s Supper” once a quarter. Every three months, an extra line would appear in the bulletin’s Order of Service between “Message” and “Special Music.” After spending a silent minute “examining our hearts,” trays bearing a species of super-dense oyster crackers and tiny plastic cups of grape juice would be passed along the pews, offering plate-style. In a tradition that generally deprecated ritual, this practice was clearly an anachronism, a holdover that would hav … [Read more...]

Consumerism and Tired Christian Criticisms

I just finished reading Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire by William Cavanaugh. Fare Forward readers will be familiar with many of its themes, but I found it insightful nonetheless.One of his more interesting suggestions is that, contrary to much Christian rhetoric, we should understand consumerism as a form of detachment rather than attachment: Most people are not overly attached to things, and most are not obsessed with hoarding riches. Indeed, the United States has one of the … [Read more...]